As a society, we have learned to look at the concept of success through a very narrow lens.
We have been taught that having a great business, earning a high income, or having large amounts of financial wealth and assets are the benchmarks that we must pay attention to.
Well, I can tell you from experience that just because you have many fancy things such as multiple homes, cars, and the ability to go on lavish holidays – it doesn’t guarantee your physical health, not to mention your emotions and sense of fulfilment.
Your Health is your True Wealth
We have all heard this saying before, and it couldn’t be more accurate!
I remember in 2019 going through a massive nervous breakdown caused by years of abusing my body, mind, and soul. This manifested in me being 35kgs/77lbs overweight, mentally depressed, and severely anxious.
The photo on the left below was taken in June 2019 at the Four Seasons in Lanai, Hawaii.
I was there with my wife and one-year-old boy staying in one of their premium oceanfront suite for two weeks, which was part of a 6-week family holiday that cost over $250,000 that I booked trying to take a break and recover.
I did not have to worry about my business back home. I had plenty of cash in the bank, a mansion to go back home to and all the bells and whistles of ‘financial wealth’.
However, despite all of this, I was completely and utterly miserable, unable to sleep and riddled with anxiety!
All I cared about once I woke up and realised it was feeling healthy mentally and physically. I didn’t care one iota about my bank balance!
Now the photo on the right was taken nine months later, in 2020. The difference in my eyes and face, along with the happiness radiating from my son, says it all.
Oh, and I had lost 35kg’s/77lbs! So, I was now back at the more natural weight of 100kg/220lbs.
Cultural Ideologies around Health and Wealth
Now part of the reason why I crashed and burned so hard is because of the education and programming that society imparts on us from a very young age – particularly in western countries.
Figure 1 gives an example of just how far apart traditional east vs west philosophy is regarding the type of role models and experiences we are given concerning what is important in life.
In the west, when it comes to health, we are taught the pathological approach to healthcare, meaning that we treat the end symptom of the pathology. E.g., you have diabetes, so here, take this medication.
In the east, the mindset is more preventative healthcare, encouraging movement, mindfulness, yoga, martial arts etc. A lot of the same practices have been passed on culturally for generations.
For example, in Japan, they have a saying called “Hara hachi bu”, translated it means “Eat until you are 80% full”. Now, if you grew up in the United States, UK, or Australia, it is unlikely you ever had a parent or teacher give you this sound piece of advice!
In the east, far greater importance is traditionally focused on treating the body and mind with respect from birth.
As you can see, we are not given the greatest ideological chance of defining what is important based on the environment being less than ideal in the West.
However, that doesn’t mean we need to let our starting point in life define where we end up, as I learned the hard way.
Health over Wealth
So, what exactly is health?
It depends on the person because everybody has different expectations and standards by which they are comfortable living.
Figure 2 outlines my philosophy of health and everything it implies across every aspect of self.
To break this down further…
- Your higher purpose is in the middle because it is at the core centre of everything. Why are you here on this planet right now, and what type of positive impact do you want to bring to humanity on a micro (with your family) or macro (society at large) whilst here? The stronger your purpose, the greater sense of overall fulfilment in life will follow.
- Your body – this is the vehicle through which we drive through life, treat it without any respect, and it will break down, disease will set in, and you will lack the energy and motivation to reach your full potential.
- Your relationships – we are all here to not only love ourselves but to love others. What type of relationships do you nurture at home, with friends and the community at large?
- Your mindset – this is critical! How do you approach your day-to-day outlook on life? Are you upbeat, proactive, and motivated? Or are you lacking motivation and all doom and gloom?
- Your emotions – do you react or respond to experiences in life? How do you feel within yourself? I can assure you that if the first four points mentioned above are firing on all cylinders, you will be happier every morning when you wake up.
In my opinion, point five is the essential success metric you can track because, without happiness in your life, any material wealth you accumulate, you won’t enjoy anyway!
This, to me, is true wealth, not a larger bank balance. Now, sure, it doesn’t mean that attracting more material wealth into your life, such as money, cars, homes, investments, is not going to give you a greater level of freedom of choice.
However, the question you need to ask yourself is what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve that because everyone has different capabilities, stress thresholds, and needs that they wish to fulfil in life.